Helping you make the most of Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 is here and no, Microsoft has not removed the modern UI. So to make the best of the situation, we decided to update our best Windows 8 apps story by adding over 20 new app recommendations! We've got game suggestions, picks for best RSS reader, and more.
Do you use the modern UI? If so, let us know your favorite Windows 8 apps in the comments below!
Adobe Photoshop Express: While it’s certainly not the full-featured beast Photoshop has become, Adobe Photoshop Express is a nice (and free) alternative if you want some basic image-editing capabilities in a streamlined package.
Adobe Reader: The ability to open and read PDF files might not sound interesting at first glance, however, its quick install and bloatware free footprint should pique your interest. The Windows 8 version of Adobe’s reader certainly outperforms the desktop version by a fairly wide margin, and is a must install for any Windows 8 user.
Best Buy: It’s not quite up there with Newegg, but Best Buy has the advantage of local stores across the US. Best Buy is frequently the best place to find gear or games on short notice, so keep this app handy.
PDF Touch: $3 might sound like a bit much for a PDF annotator, however even on competing platforms, these seem to go for a premium. The ability to quickly and easily mock up PDF files is super handy, and PDF Touch has almost all the bases covered. Need to sign a document and send it back? No problem. Need to highlight or cross out passages to send corrections back to the author? No problem. Its simple, and it works.
Pin-Steam No this isn’t a fully functional version of Steam for Windows 8, but it does allow you launch games from Microsoft’s new modern UI without hopping over to the desktop. Given Gabe Newell’s numerous objections to Windows 8, this might well be the closest thing we ever get to an official Windows 8 app. Pin-Steam allows you to do little more than pin icons, but it still offers a great experience for modern UI enthusiasts.
Dropbox: In our last round-up we recommended the Skydrive app for your Windows 8 cloud storage needs. Since launch however, Dropbox has joined the party. This version of the app is missing many of the features that make it so useful on other platforms (like automatic photo uploading), but its tile based interface certainly makes it much more finger friendly than Windows Explorer. The other downside is that its currently cloud only, and requires an Internet connection to even fire up.
Remote Desktop: Remote Desktop might sound like nothing new, but the Modern UI version available for Windows 8 is a major improvement. This app allows you to easily bring up the desktop on any Windows machine on the network, and the performance is fantastic. The older version of the remote desktop application is still around, however the modern UI version feels smoother, and you can easily switch between full screen desktops in under a second just by swiping in from the top left.
Shazam: Shazam is on nearly every mobile platform, so its introduction on Windows 8 was a very natural extension. The ability of this app to recognize and tag the song you are listening to is uncanny, and the service it provides to the mental wellbeing of its users can’t be understated. Never again will you find yourself doubled over in agony over the name of a song that you’ve heard a million times, but just can’t seem to identify.
Picasa Gallery: Picasa is one of the most under appreciated Google services, and its ability to easily share and save high resolution camera images is hard to beat. Windows 8 users looking for an easy way to browse their own content (or public images), should check out Picasa Albums. The layout of this app works perfectly with the new Windows 8 modern UI, and beats the website hands down if you are in the mood for a full-screen experience.
Plex: Plex is one of the most popular free and open-source media player solutions you can find these days, and the Windows 8 version does an excellent job of presenting your content using the modern UI. You will need to install the Plex media server on the PC where you store all your music and videos, however once you do, this Windows 8 app does an excellent job of serving up your content.
Netflix: The popular video streaming service is one of the first apps to hit the Windows 8 store. The interface takes some getting used to, but this app is all about the content.
Skype: One of the best and most ubiquitous communication services available for the PC, the Skype Windows 8 app may actually be better than the Windows desktop version of Skype with its cleaner UI.
Kindle: You don’t have to buy a tablet from Amazon to have access to their e-book library. The Kindle app for Windows 8 gives you access to all the functions you’d expect from one of the most popular e-book platforms ever.
SkyDrive: Like OneNote, SkyDrive is one of those Microsoft offerings that has snuck under the radar, but Windows 8 may change that. SkyDrive integrates tightly with Windows 8, powering file and setting synchronization between PCs.
BLINK Cliplets: BLINK Cliplets lets you take a short video clip and convert it into an animated GIF, allowing you to select portions of the frame to be frozen as a still image and others which will be animated. These cliplets are limited only by your creativity, and can be shared to your social networks.
CNN: It never hurts when a big news outlet has a high-quality app. The CNN app for Windows 8 gives you access to CNN content in an intuitive and responsive interface that will have you leaving fingerprints wherever you see the CNN logo.
Halo: Spartan Assault: Quite simply the best game available for Windows 8. Spartan Assault's controls, gameplay, and price add up to what should be one of the first app purchases for anyone remotely interested in gaming on Windows 8.
Newegg: Newegg is one of our favorite sites for parts and peripherals, and their Windows 8 app makes it easy to find parts for your next build with a touch friendly UI. The Newegg app even lets you find discounted bundles or barebones systems.
Redbox: The Blockbuster killer has their Internet-connected kiosks placed strategically throughout the US. The Redbox app for Windows 8 allows you to locate kiosks near you and browse the available discs at each location.
SlapDash Podcasts: The geniuses at Microsoft have determined that there is no need for native podcast support in Windows 8, leaving an opening for apps like SlapDash Podcasts to fill the void. SlapDash has their own content catalog, but you can also add your favorite podcasts (like our very own No BS Podcast).